I was first introduced to Layar by Professor Bryan Carter at a black digital humanities panel session conducted at the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. Layar (now Blippar) is a self-service mobile application which overlays digital content on print pages. The company is a pioneer in augmented reality and believes that this format “has the power to effect change in the way people discover and interact with useful and educational information.” However, Layar serves a dual function for this book. LAYAR is an act of defiance and a synthesis tool which provides textual summary about CORE and Black Power. 

Generally, monographs operate as professional indicators ofexpertise and as a tool for career advancement.  Less concerning is a book’s impact on community and every day persons.  Indeed, my article “The Return of Black Political Power: How 1970s History Can Guide New Black Mayors Toward a Radical City” points to the ways in which expunged black history stymies future developments around city rebuilding and black economic development.

Layar effectively operates to provide historical context for the site, contact information for specific questions, and twitter information which links current events and news related to black power, black economic development, community capitalism, black digital history.


Despite Layar’s professionally beneficial enhancements, its use stemmed more from my personal frustration and differences with University of Arkansas Press. Like many publishers, the press concentrated its attention on historical question, uniqueness of information, presentation, and format.  My concerns lay with the above, but also within a larger black studies context where my scholarly impulse centered on accessibility and meaning.

I write in Harambee City book that,

“I am an oral historian, black freedom scholar, and my mother’s child. I aspire here to openly, analytically, critically illuminate for readers the history of CORE and the genuine, legitimate collaboration between activists and historians, which helped me to tell it. I hope to temper the power that resides with me, and I do so by telling you no tales of being the all-knowing Great Historical Wiz. Rather, in this space, right at the front, I give you the truth of it. I am the girl with the ruby red slippers.”

This metaphor illustrated both my relationship to CORE members and the power I wielded as the book’s writer.  I intended to demonstrate this duality beyond my words by incorporating the picture below as my author photo, an act that was simultaneously intellectual and deeply personal. All three persons, my mother, Nate Smith, and Antoine Perot had all passed before the completion of this book.


UAP, however, quibbled over the photo's pixel count and determined that its quality was not good enough for publication, thus missing the point altogether.  Rather than insert an image of myself alone, I simply chose to leave the back cover of the dust jacket blank. Still, the image indelibly remained in my mind, until Professor Carter inspired an alternate solution to my concerns.

Digital summary of the book appears on the cover along with the “author photo” I chose for my book. To see the augmented reality on Harambee City's book cover, download blippar on google play or apple app store. 

Note: Augmented reality is an ever changing technology, the AR attached here may or may not exist at time of viewing. This is one among many complications associated with incorporating digital humanities.